I have an enduring penchant for soup and Potato Leek has always been one of my favorites. While not the most figure-friendly option, it’s delightfully hearty and warming, the perfect comfort on a chilly Winter day like we’ve been experiencing lately in South Florida – seriously, it really HAS been cold!
I recently came across this recipe for Celery Leek Soup with Bacon & Croutons which sounded very similar except it didn’t call for the starchy potatoes or heavy cream found in most Potato Leek Soup recipes – well, the good ones anyway. The Celery Leek Soup recipe swapped the potatoes for celery and the heavy cream was replaced with a scant 1/2 cup of crème fraîche. My husband had also been on a celery kick lately and whether slathered with peanut butter or accompanied by a Bloody Mary he couldn’t get enough of it! It seemed like the perfect time to give this recipe a try but could celery possibly make an adequate substitute for potatoes? There was only one way to find out.
I must admit, halfway through the recipe I was a little doubtful. As the veggies cooked down it didn’t seem like the celery was going to cut it as a replacement for rich, creamy Yukon Golds. I forged on, however, and I’m so glad I did! The Soup Gods were definitely smiling on me that day – this celery-based soup was creamy, flavorful, and delicious! The puree of celery, leeks, onions, and garlic is deliciously enhanced by the addition of crème fraîche and then studded with smoky, crunchy bits of bacon and croutons – what’s not to love about that? A few tips though, be sure to season the soup generously with salt and pepper, sampling often to adjust to your taste. Feel free to puree the soup to your desired level of consistency. If you prefer it super silky, strain it through a sieve after you puree it, we enjoyed the soup with some texture though.
To pair with the Celery Leek Soup with Bacon & Croutons I recommend the 2009 Pillar Box White ($16) from Padthaway, Australia. This blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Verdelho, and Chardonnay has delightful notes of pear and tangy citrus with a food friendly acidity that pairs so nicely with the soup. If you’re more of a red wine person, the 2011 Paul Cluver Pinot Noir ($20) from South Africa will also pair nicely, highlighting the smoky bacon aspect of the dish. I hope you enjoy this pairing as much as we did – I’d love to hear what you think!
“Celery Leek Soup with Bacon & Croutons”
Adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, January 2015
6 tablespoons butter
3 medium leeks, halved & thinly sliced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 large ribs of celery, trimmed & thinly sliced
4 ounces bacon slices
Three 1/2-inch-thick slices of country or French bread, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1.) In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the leeks, onions, garlic and a generous pinch each of Kosher salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 12 minutes. Add the celery and cook, stirring, until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to moderate. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
2.) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the slices of bacon over moderate heat, until browned and crisp, 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to half of a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the bacon fat. Add the diced bread and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer to the other side of the prepared baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Chop or crumble cooled bacon slices into bite size pieces.
3.) Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot until it gets smooth or you reach your desired texture. If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree the soup in batched in a blender and return to the saucepan. Once blended, whisk in the crème fraîche and season generously with Kosher salt and pepper.
4.) Serve the soup hot, topped with the chopped bacon and croutons and wine pairing if desired.